July in the Arctic….each day brings more warmth, more humidity as the bogs heat up, and more bugs. They are also the biggest mosquitoes and horseflies we have ever seen….actual size shown below…Ha!
Our least favorite weapon is a deterrent: DEET, which works but is sticky and smelly. We have read independent research indicating that a 20% lemon and eucalyptus spray, made by OFF, works as well as 20% Deet. No such thing available in the Arctic of course. So, another great tool of deterrence is a bug jacket that includes a head and hat cover. Unfortunately, it also needs a pesticide as they can sting through it, but it at least keeps the slow and stupid horseflies from continually smashing into your face.
Meet our favorite find: the bug racket. It is very useful in our travel rig as 6-8 skeeters always seem to fly in with any egress, no matter how speedy we are. It looks like a squash racket but the strings are electrified with AA batteries. It is a very effective weapon of mass mosquito destruction, with a satisfying snap, spark, and smoke. It also has a fried meat smell after the kill….very satisfying! Kill! Kill!…not very Buddhist of us. Sometimes deterrence is not enough….note the size of the victim above.
We have had no problem with bears although we are always armed with a canister of mace that shoots 20 feet. That is still way too close for us as hikers so we also carry “Bear Blasters”. These must be loaded with a bullet like cartridge, pointed skyward, cocked and fired, shooting a blank, that explodes with noise at its apex. Some say it is completely effective. Some say the bears now associate it with hunters shooting caribou….and come running to grab the wounded game. We hope never to test it, but must carry it, even on the local 4 hole golf course exhibiting a warning reading, “Grizzlies on the golf course”, this week in Inuvik, NT. It is the Western Arctic, after all, and a grizzly can only act like a grizzly…